As was the case throughout an impressive 30-5 2017 campaign, the Bulldogs baseball team battled until the last out was recorded, but came up short in the State Quarterfinal vs. Carroll Kuemper by a score of 5-3.
After starting pitcher Anthony Lowman struck out two of the first three batters he faced in the top of the first inning, a one-out triple by JJ Durflinger got the Bulldogs started in the bottom half of the inning. Drew Gordon then scored Durflinger on an RBI groundout to give the Bulldogs the early 1-0 lead. That lead would be relinquished in the top of the third after a leadoff walk and a single by Kuemper put two runners on. A triple to right field scored both runners giving Kuemper the 2-1 lead. Kuemper extended the lead to 3-1 when a runner on first left early and got in a rundown allowing the runner on third base to score. The next two complete innings saw six batters come up for the both teams and all six recorded outs for both teams. Lowman struck out three of the six he faced.
The momentum shifted in the Bulldogs favor in the bottom of the fifth. As this team has all season, they battled back. A leadoff single by Sam Thompson and then a double by Carson Rhodes put runners on second and third with no outs. Thompson scored on an attempted squeeze that got by the catcher bringing the Bulldogs to within one. After a line shot to the shortstop by Brady O’Brien was unable to score Rhodes from third, Kaleb Booge came through with the game-tying RBI to center field, knotting the score up at 3-3. The Bulldogs were able to get one more runner on in the inning but could not capitalize.
In the top of the sixth inning, Kuemper loaded the bases after two singles and a perfectly executed bunt past the pitcher. Drew Gordon entered for Lowman on the mound and promptly struck out two batters, both on full counts. Just when it looked like the Bulldogs would escape the threat, the third batter Gordon faced poked a single to center field on a 1-2 count scoring two runs and putting Kuemper back up 5-3. The Bulldogs went quietly in the bottom half of the inning but Gordon picked them up with a scoreless seventh. In the bottom half of the seventh, the Bulldogs had one more opportunity with two runners reaching base on walks but were unable to push anything across.
Anthony Lowman took his first loss of the season for the Bulldogs in an outstanding five inning performance in which he struck out nine Kuemper hitters. Drew Gordon’s final outing as a Bulldog was equally as impressive striking out three in two innings of work, giving up two hits, walking none, and giving up no runs.
The record for this team over the last three years seniors Drew Gordon, Brady O’Brien, Kaleb Booge, and Zach Ernst have been a part of varsity baseball is 83-20 which is a good for a winning percentage of .806, a phenomenal tradition of success. The Bulldogs defense came to play when they needed it most, only committing an error in 1 of the final 5 games of the season. Evidence of the tremendous heart and belief in each other of this team lies in the fact that they either trailed or were tied by the opposing team in 17 of their 35 games, but only lost 5 times all season. Of their five losses, two were to 3A state qualifier Saydel, one to 2A state qualifier Treynor, one to 2A state qualifier Carroll Kuemper, and one to 2A substate finalist Woodward-Granger. Thank you to a great group of young men for their time and dedication in continuing to build the Van Meter baseball tradition.